Apr 24, 2012

Life is Lived in the Lightning

"Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot.  Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God." Ecclesiastes 5:18,19

[written the night before my 21st birthday]

I'm sitting and watching indescribable lightning light up the sky. Wind and rain rails against the window. This is the second night, now, that we have had a lightning storm. Last night it was warm and dry, and I sat out in a grassy field and watched the long streaks spread out over my head. There's something about these flashes of light that makes my heart ache: it is so beautiful and so magnificent, nature in its utter brilliance. Fireworks from the heavens. I could sit and watch it until the darkness of night brightens into dawn.  

Last night, as I sat and marveled at the sky, I thought back to the last time I saw a real lightning storm. I could pinpoint it exactly: 360 days ago. We were in Manila, just a few days from departing the Philippines. Most of the goodbyes had already been said. That night, Rainey, Cliff, and I found ourselves outside the Mall of Asia, sitting on the concrete slab, the barrier between the mall and the bay. We sat and watched the arms of lightning reach out over the waters, again, and again, and again. I think we joked around a little, but the mood was somber. A bittersweet feeling. A sense of disbelief. Could those months really have gone by so fast?

And now I sit and watch the lightning again, and I think back to that night from almost a year ago. Can it really have already been a year? 

For my birthday last year, I woke up early and went down to the beach to reflect on life and talk with God. I'd had a wild year upon which to reflect: first time counseling, sickness, surgery, ministry experiences, deaths, sad truths, friendships, leadership roles…I felt beyond my years in many ways. (memory jog)

And so now, as I sit and watch the sky make drastic changes from dark to light and back again, I am of course finding myself reflecting over this last year. What have I gained? What have I accomplished? More than I think I initially see. 

I've officially changed my plans for the future. I've returned as an experienced, passionate, and enthusiastic counselor, and I got to see one of my kids get baptized. I've faced some more deaths and hard truths. I've made a number very wonderful friendships. I've had the honor to meet some of Portland's homeless residents. I've spoken truth and love into the lives of others. I've pursued knowledge beyond the classroom and have learned much. I have played, I have worked, I have served, and I have led. I've lived.

21. Really? Wasn't I just 17? I'm finding these years a lot like lightning: bright and magnificent and far-reaching. And brief. 

Since each year keeps flashing by, I'm making sure each day is lived to its fullest. It sounds cliché. It is cliché. But it's a cliché I want to hold on to. Day dawns full of possibility and opportunity. I want to make use of all opportunities possible.

So that when I turn 22, I'll sit on a mountain or stand in a hurricane and remember that last year

                            I LIVED.

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